Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
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METAIRIE, La. ― Jimmy Graham isn’t positive exactly what people think of him but he suspects he has an idea what his reputation is.
He also thinks he has an idea what Tennessee defensive coordinator Jerry Gray thinks of him.
“I think everyone thinks I’m soft at some point,” Graham said.
And why does he think that?
“People have been telling me that a long time,” Graham said. “I’m sure (Gray) still thinks I’m a basketball player but hopefully Sunday I can prove I’m a football player.”
Indeed, Gray, a disciple of Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, sent the opening salvo to Sunday’s game in Nashville when he told his secondary to deliver remember me shots – hard, physical hits that stick when the players getting hit.
And Graham doesn’t really get it.
“That’s every game,” Graham said of getting hit. “I don’t know what’s different one week from the next. Football is football. When you’re catching balls down the middle, you’re going to take big hits. I know to expect big hits and I know when they’re going to come. I don’t mind them.”
Graham leads the Saints with 75 catches and 1,046 yards receiving. His catch total is second in the NFL and his receiving yards are fifth-most in the league.
At 6-foot-6, Graham is an inviting target both for Saints quarterback Drew Brees and for opposing defense. But he’s not alone – receiver Marques Colston is 6-4 and Robert Meachem is 6-2.
Lance Moore, at 5-9, is the shortest of the wide receivers, but he’s not worried about the hits.
“They play physical,” Moore said. “We play physical. It doesn’t really matter. We’re going to get hit regardless. For him to say that, he’s the defensive coordinator, that’s what he wants them to do. We’ve just got to go out and play.”
For Graham, though, the call for physical play is nothing new.
In fact, he’s getting used to it.
“I’m just going on my second year but it seems like it has been happening a lot lately, a lot of guys have been saying things about me and about what they’re going to do to me,” Graham said. “But I don’t mind. I just brush it off and take it with a grain of salt. I just prepare each week just like it was the last.”